THEME 1: THE TRUSTWORTHY PROMISES OF GOD – THE PROCLAMATION
THIS IS OUR CHRISTMAS PROMISE:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3: 16)
- This starts off with a statement of facts: God loves the world – in fact the “cosmos” – the whole of creation.
- Then we have the declaration of a fulfilled promise: that He sent Jesus to the world that He loves.
- Then we have this wonderful future promise: that if we believe in Jesus then we will be given eternal life.
THE PROBLEM WITH THE PROMISE
Now…our overarching Bible text for 2022 has included these words:
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart” (Proverbs 3: 5)
But how can I trust in the LORD if I am not certain that He is going to keep His promises?
And let’s be clear about the enormity of this: one man has counted more than 7000 promises from God to us as written in the Bible…and today we’re going to look at all 7000 of them!!! (Only kidding)
As soon as I hear the words “I promise”, I ask the questions: Do you mean it? Will you keep your promise? What evidence is there that I can trust you to keep your promise? Because…
A promise has NO VALUE unless it is kept. BUT when there IS evidence that promises are kept, THEN we can trust in the One who made those promises to fulfil those not yet realised.
On the 30th September 1938, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from a meeting with Adolf Hitler in Munich and waving a piece of paper as he descended from the plane to waiting journalists, he declared that:
“The settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace. This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine [shows paper to crowd]. Some of you, perhaps, have already heard what it contains but I would just like to read it to you: ” … We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again”.
Later that day, he stood outside 10 Downing Street, again read from the document and concluded:
“My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”
He promised “peace for our time” – the promise from the German government that they would not go further than occupying the Sudetenland. This promise was literally “not worth the paper it was written on”…
When we declare that “I will give you a chocolate if you will be my friend” and then offer the box to the person who finds that there is nothing in it, then we have an “empty promise”.
When we promise to do something and put it in writing – maybe on a clay pot – and that pot is smashed because we did not keep our promise then we have a “broken promise”.
Promises are declarations of intent that are made by fallible man…and so often circumstances dictate that the promise is never fulfilled – or, worse still, there was never any intention of doing what was promised.
And so the child cries out “You promised!” and with that they lose a little bit of faith in their parents.
And the cuckolded wife cries out “You promised ‘for better or for worse, forsaking all others, till death do us part!’” as her husband walks out on her.
Let us remind ourselves of the words written on our church Christmas cards which shall be delivered to 1500 homes this year:
This has been a year in which we have mourned the loss of our treasured monarch, Queen Elizabeth II and welcomed King Charles III to the throne.
A year in which we have been saddened by the war in Ukraine, rocked by political instability and bemused by a World Cup played in the Winter season.
In a world of change and broken promises, the “Promises of God” remain the one and only constant. It is at this time of year that we celebrate their fulfilment of God’s wonderful promise in the birth of Jesus Christ…who, according to all that was foretold, came for us…and is coming again to make all things new.
May you find these promises bring you peace and hope this Christmas time.
THE PERSON OF GOD AND THE PROCLAMATION OF THE PROMISE
God is not like man…He is faithful. His promises are good and certain. This is what we believe and this belief in the sure and certain promises of God is our proclamation:
“The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does”. (Psalm 145: 13)
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10: 23)
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1: 3-4)
“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil?” (The message God gave Balaam to give to Balak in Numbers 23: 19)
‘Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed’ (Joshua’s declaration to the people of Israel in 23: 14)
19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why ‘it was credited to him as righteousness.’ (Paul, speaking about Abraham in Romans 4: 19-22 and showing that faith includes trusting in God’s promises to be fulfilled).
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 1: 20 – All God’s promises are true, because all of them are YES and AMEN “in CHRIST”! You can depend on God’s promises, because Jesus is their guarantee. God says, “I promise” … Jesus says, “YES!” Jesus is the assurance, the surety, of God’s promises).
Our God is a God: “who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1: 17). Speaking of God the Son we are told: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever” (Hebrews 13: 8)
And what are the many promises that He has made us? They are many and wide-ranging. Here are what are, by some, considered the top 8 (see separate document “The Promises of God”):
- The Blood of Jesus Cleanses us from Sin: we have the promise of forgiveness
- Jesus Died to Give us Eternal Life: we have the promise of Paradise
- God’s Presence is in Our Lives: He will never leave us or forsake us
- God Will Answer Our Prayers: He hears and answers
- God Will Give Us Strength: the promise to enable us to endure
- God is Truth: the promise that everything He says will be fulfilled
- God Fills us with Love: The promise that He loves us always
- Our Sins Are Forgiven: the promise that we are made right with God
PROCLAMATION AND PROOF OF PROMISES
And so we come to Christmas 2022: and we look at the promises that God made which were fulfilled in the coming of Jesus…and the promises for us of His coming again and of a sure and certain eternal hope in Heaven as a result of all this…
Yet these promises are all statements – or PLEAS…what use are these without the PROOFS that God DOES keep His promises?
In our next session we are going to see that ALL God’s promises to the world regarding the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ have been fulfilled. Here we will see the PROOF that God fulfils all His promises to us. Therefore, we can trust in Him to fulfil the promises He has made for the future.